The Canes' game Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres has everyone's attention.
But so did a game that was played Thursday night: New York Islanders 6, New York Rangers 2. That was eye-opening.
Before the Sabres, there will be the Islanders for the Canes. They go at it tomorrow night at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island before the big game Sunday between Carolina and Buffalo at the RBC Center.
"That game is huge for us," Jeff Skinner said today of the Islanders. "We need those points on Long Island and we need to bring our 'A' game.
"Coming off that win over the Rangers ... we can't take them lightly or anything, that's for sure. They're working hard and they're competing. It's really key for us to go in there and get off to a good start."
When the Canes last played the Islanders, on March 18 at the RBC Center, it was a struggle. Erik Cole scored late in regulation to tie the score and the Canes won 3-2 in overtime on Joni Pitkanen's goal. but the Isles were fast and aggressive and got a strong game in goal from Al Montoya.
"They're playing very, very well, a highly skilled team with no real concern or fear, so we'll have to be real good," Canes coach Paul Maurice said today after practice at the RecZone. "With the way they're playing, I don't feel we'll be looking past them. Everyone has a lot of respect for their talent."
The Canes (37-30-10), three points out of playoff position, have won five of their last six, with the only loss a 4-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back.
"Everyone says you have to go one game at a time," center Tuomo Ruutu said. "But that's certainly true now, with just five games left. We go in to every game with the idea we need to win it."
Eric Staal and Joe Corvo did not practice today. Defenseman Jay Harrison, out the past two games with an upper-body injury, was at practice.